Influencer Marketing Tips and Tricks for Authors

The term “social media influencer” comes up often these days, though it is vague and meaningless to some people. Books Forward is here to help you find out who these people are, and how you both can work together!

Who are influencers?

Influencers are people who have a decent following on social media, full of an audience of people who are specifically interested in the influencer’s opinions on whatever topics or items it is they discuss. Some influencers are “fitness gurus” who post videos of workout plans, their healthy eating habits and fitness clothing brands they prefer. Other influencers post makeup tutorials and makeup brand preferences. In the book world, there is an entire community of influencers who make posts that center around books they love, books they are reading, books they are planning to read, books they bought six months ago but still haven’t had a chance to pick up, books with beautiful covers, books with sad endings. . . do you see the theme here? There is an entire social media world out there that focuses specifically on books. As an author searching for an audience, it is crucial and beneficial to tap into that!

What do influencers do?

All of the posts that influencers make on social media build their reputation on their platform. Twitter’s #BookTwitter, TikTok’s #Booktok, Youtube’s “Booktube” and Instagram’s “Bookstagram” accounts are popular platforms for booklovers to unite and discuss everything that is books. Twitter is a place where people typically discuss in-depth themes of books, while TikTok features aesthetically pleasing videos of bookshelves with books arranged by color, or book challengers for people to complete together. Youtube is a great place to find people talking through book reviews, and Bookstagram has beautiful, artsy pictures of books with thoughtful captions about the books featured.

Influencers with a large following are often sent book after book from many different publishers, so the books they decide are good enough to read, or have an attractive enough cover to post, hold significant value in the book world. However, large accounts can also be deceiving. Sometimes, sending your book to an account with a smaller following will garner just as many audience members because of engagement of posts and thoughtfulness in posts. People like to get an opinion on a book from somebody they trust, and when a well-respected influencer gives a raving review about a book on their account, it immediately gains leverage.

What Does This Mean for Authors?

This is the most important question, right? Why does this entire “book world” on social media matter? It just sounds like an outlet for people who are obsessed with reading, right? Well, that is right, and that is also why it is important for authors. Just like us, a lot of these influencers have their specific preferences. Maybe there’s one who LOVES historical fiction novels, or YA romance novels. If you are releasing your debut YA romance novel and manage to get an influencer to read and review your book positively, you now have a significant following of people listening. About YOUR book. Even if you only get the influencer to post a picture of your book, saying they are excited to read it, it gets your book in front of people who are potentially interested. You are tapping into a niche audience that was basically formulated for books like yours!

A lot of the time, influencers will be perfectly happy with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. A lot of bookstagrammers don’t post negative reviews so it depends on who you reach out to, but you basically send them the book for a post on their story, or a picture on their feed. Also they aren’t sent as many books as the bigger accounts and can be more thoughtful with posts.

Common Misconceptions

It is not always about the number of followers that a bookstagrammer has. If you get an influencer who has 100k followers to read your post your book, but your book is YA and the influencer prefers mystery books, the audience receiving the message is targeted to people who might not be interested in your book. It is best to find an influencer who’s brand lines up with yours, because the people representing your book are a reflection of it. You want people who support and appreciate your work as an author and your book’s genre. Accounts with smaller followings should not be cast aside because of their size; these accounts may look smaller but could have a high engagement level! This is something you should always consider when picking influencers to work with. Smaller accounts also don’t have as many books coming their way, and the chance of getting a review or post from them is higher. Reach out to a variety of followings, and focus on the branding of the individual influencer.

 

Building a world based on kindness, joy, and writing

This, as we all know, has been a hell of a year. But one thing this year has brought us is the opportunity to create new systems and build the world we want. For much of my life, I’ve been trying to do just that. I even gave my world a name: LoriLand. When things in the “real” world frustrated me, I would declare, “Well, in LoriLand, teachers and artists make the most money,” or, “In LoriLand, critical thinking and empathy are part of every core curriculum.” (Sometimes I would get asked pesky questions such as, “Who makes all the judgment calls?” To which I would answer, “Me! It’s called LoriLand, after all.”)

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that kindness, happiness and the arts are some of the things I care about the most. At the end of 2017, as a way to see if anyone else was interested in a mash-up of these three things, I came up with the idea of the 30-Day Writers Happiness Challenge: 30 days of daily, five-minute happiness prompts for writers. I put up a Facebook post, added a page to my website, and waited to see what would happen. And within two weeks, with nearly zero promotion, 500 writers from around the world had signed up.

Turns out it wasn’t just me who cared about this. It was a lot of us.

With this in mind, the Writers Happiness Movement was launched earlier this year. It’s based on two unwavering beliefs: that kindness, inclusion and joy matter and that the written word is one of the most powerful ways to promote courage, empathy and ferocity of the heart. The idea of the movement is to create more happiness for each individual writer, while making the world a better place for all writers.

Here’s how it works: The Writers Happiness Movement offers a plethora of free happiness tools created specifically for writers, all open to everyone without cost. These tools are designed to help writers access more joy, more writing time, and more spaciousness for and around our writing and our lives. They include online writing retreats, online yoga/meditation/breathwork for writers, and weekly 5-minute Writers Happiness exercises. Over a thousand writers have participated in these so far! There also are microgrants, little infusions of cash meant to cheer a writer on. Two of these tiny grants, currently $25 each, go out monthly to writers nominated by a friend. The only requirements are that the nominee has to be some kind of writer and also has to be someone you think is a good person. If you want to nominate someone, you can do so here.

As the movement grows, there will be larger grants, residencies, fellowships, and — the big goal — retirement homes and co-living spaces that are free to writers, completely paid for by the Writers Happiness Movement.

How is this funded, you might ask? Well, it’s LoriLand, so it’s funded in a way that I think is healthy for humans and the planet: through an alternative, community-based, open-handed economic structure that has kindness and equity at its root. While all the happiness tools are free to everyone, if someone would like and is able to, they can become a patron of Writers Happiness at $5/month. This funds the programs that require money. Becoming a patron of Writers Happiness is similar to becoming a patron of an individual artist, except that instead of supporting one writer so that writer can keep creating, you’re supporting programs designed to build a world where all writers can keep creating.

This is meant to be both a revolution and a refuge. There’s nothing you have to do to be part of the Writers Happiness Movement, other than be who you are and write what you write (and sign up for it, of course). Because who you are and what you write are exactly what our world needs.

There are so many people right now consciously choosing kindness over fear. Choosing love over anger. Choosing to write and create even if it sometimes seems impossible. This is a home for all of us.

Let’s rewrite the world, one writer at a time.

Author Bio: Lori Snyder is the founder of the Writers Happiness Movement. She’s also a writer, a long-time yoga teacher, leader of the Splendid Mola Writing Retreats, and a great fan of all things gritty and glittery at the same time. Her debut middle grade fantasy, “The Circus at the End of the Sea” — which is her love letter to delight, the ocean, and Venice, California — is out with HarperCollins in fall 2021. You can find her, and the Writers Happiness Movement, at www.writershappiness.com.

 

4 tips for writing a great book synopsis

 

A succinct, compelling book description is a crucial element in any book marketing campaign. Yet, for many authors, penning a well-constructed description of their work is easier said than done. This is understandable. Who wants to see the fruits of their labor crammed into the space of a couple of paragraphs? No one wants to force their baby into such a little box.

As difficult as it may be, it’s important when writing a book description to think about your book from the perspective of a total stranger. Why should they be interested in you or your beloved book? What are the five main points you think will stand out to them, and why are they important? If you can condense your book to an easily digestible, compelling description, you will have much more luck convincing editors, bloggers, publishers and book reviewers to give it a chance. Try to use brevity to your advantage and give your audience just enough information to get them hooked.

Sure, writing a book blurb can feel like a ruthless, editorial bloodbath. But cutting your book down to the most vital or tantalizing points will give you a new understanding of your work, and your book will be better for it. If you’re feeling uncertain, here are some common book blurb pitfalls to avoid.

1. Don’t over explain the plot.

One of the most common problems we see with book blurbs is when an author can’t decide when to stop describing elements of the plot. The result is usually an overly long book blurb, bloated with plot points, yet short on why we should read the book. While it’s important to give readers an idea of the story they’re about to read, there’s no point in giving away all the twists and turns before they’re even invested in the main character. Try to focus on summing up the main plot and its themes in a single sentence, two at the most. That should be enough for readers to get an idea whether they’re interested.

2. Don’t oversell your book with “filler” adjectives.

Another dubious feature of many book descriptions is when the author appears to be reviewing, rather than describing, their own book. Sure, maybe your book really is a “compelling,” “heart-rending,” story, “perfect for readers of all ages,” but why should anyone take your word for it? Too many superlative descriptions act as filler and, unless they can be attributed to an actual reviewer, often make the author look specious. Rather than wasting your word count, try to focus on why your book is compelling or heart-rending and tell that to the reader.

3. Highlight your book’s primary conflict.

Something we often see with book descriptions is that authors will get so overwhelmed with information that they forget to outline the main conflict of their book. It should go without saying that conflict is an essential element to every good story, and since it’s likely the thrust of your narrative, it’s good to make the central conflict of your story clear from the outset. Is your protagonist struggling with illness? Social oppression? Evil god-like forces? The conflict of your narrative is more often than not what will draw your readers in, so why not make it clear from the outset?

4. Avoid clichés and overused descriptors.

By trying to be thoughtful about outlining the details of your main plot, themes, and central conflict, you’re also telling the readers about why your book is unique. Yes, at the end of the day, your story may be a classic tale of a protagonist’s struggle between the forces of good and evil. But should you describe it that way? Surely, it’s not as generic as that, right? Try as much as possible to avoid these clichés and describe your book with language its unique qualities and highlights your individuality as an author. Don’t let your book blurb sell your book short!

One rule of thumb: think of your book blurb less as a description of your book and more as an adaptation. Rather than just telling readers about your book, imagine you’re adapting your book into a new poetic format, that gives its complexities in miniature condensations of narrative description. And, as always, consider cutting a sentence or two when you’re done!

Relax and read with an ambiance room


My focus has been a little … scattered in recent months. But one thing that has helped me concentrate is ambiance rooms! These videos are usually a scene or several scenes that run for hours. You can keep them on the in background — some have music, and some are just accompanied by light sounds from the visuals around the site, but all of them are calming.

Whether you are trying to sit down and read or work or just sit with your thoughts for a few minutes, we’ve collected some of our favorite rooms for to you to relax in!

  1. My personal favorite place to virtually visit? The Shire. Just the thought of visiting Bilbo in his little house under the hill and having a cup of tea makes me sigh with relief.
  2. Even though we can’t go work in a coffee shop in person right now, you can recreate a similar vibe with some light jazz and the pitter patter of rain. 
  3. Want to take a quick trip to Scotland with Jamie Fraser (who doesn’t)? Check out this video with babbling brooks and Outlander music
  4. If someone asked me my ideal writing situation, I would simply show them this vibrant desk set up in front of gently falling autumn leaves with the sound of wind chimes in the background.
  5. And if I could read anywhere, I’d choose to settle in among these magnificent stacks with a thunderstorm pounding at the windows.
  6. Or perhaps I’ll take a quick jaunt through the wardrobe to visit the peaceful winter woods of Narnia under a blanket of snow.
  7. If being indoors in winter is more of your thing, settle in by the fireplace and let the crackling wood and flickering candles relax you. 
  8. Need some alone time? Try this scene of nighttime in the mountains under the stars with the chirps of crickets and no one else around for miles.
  9. Or if a tropical getaway is what you’re looking for, escape to this bookstore on an island — the quiet background noises are so soothing.
  10. And, of course, there’s the classic sound of waves crashing on the shore under palm trees that is sure to bring you peace.

How to write an author bio that stands out

Nothing can strike fear into an author’s heart quite like the author bio. Sure, you may have just finished off the final touches of the next great American novel. But the task of condensing an entire career into a couple short paragraphs is a lot trickier than it may seem. Plus in today’s age of digital media, your author bio may follow you from one corner of the internet to another for years. You’ve suddenly got quite a potential challenge on your hands. Luckily, you can follow a few tips to ensure that your author’s bio is positioned to paint as complete (and efficient) a portrait of you as possible for years to come.

Don’t date yourself!

To be clear, I’m not talking about ’80s references here. One of the biggest mistakes authors tend to make when writing an author bio is churning out long lists of previous publications, awards, and “forthcoming” works. This makes a lot of sense in a professional CV, but not so much in an author’s bio. Anticipate that any bio you’re going to write will be repopulated around the web for the rest of time. It’s not going to look fresh in 2020 if you’re talking about that “forthcoming” Writer’s Digest piece from fall 2007.

Rather than getting too specific, it’s best to simply list publications and awards in the past tense with as few specific dates as possible and only where they make the most sense. See, for example, Books Forward author Tori Eldridge:

Tori Eldridge is the Anthony and Lefty Awards-nominated author of The Ninja Daughter, which was named one of the “Best Mystery Books of the Year” by The South Florida Sun Sentinel and awarded 2019 Thriller Book of the Year by Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Her short stories appear in several anthologies, and her screenplay ‘The Gift’ earned a semifinalist spot in the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship.

This paragraph tells us a lot about Tori. We know that she’s published in several anthologies and been nominated for several awards, but we don’t need to know all of the specifics. Only in one case is the date necessary — the 2019 Thriller Books of the Year award — and it’s used here to maximum effect. If you can help from bogging your reader down with specifics, the achievements you do choose to highlight become a lot more interesting!

Slipping in the goods

We’re all interesting people, and we all have exciting things to share about ourselves. But for authors, it’s crucial that your author bio only shares information that’s most pertinent to your brand and the kind of promotion you’re trying to do. For instance, if your book is about running an effective workplace, you might not want to fill your author bio with information about how much you love raising ferrets or decorative pinecone collecting.

The information listed in your author bio is likely to come up repeatedly in author interviews and media coverage, so it’s best to include information that you’re comfortable talking about that will help drive interest to your book.

Here again, we can look to author Tori Eldridge for a good example:

Before writing, Tori performed as an actress, singer, dancer on Broadway, television, and film. She is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent and was born and raised in Honolulu where she graduated from Punahou School with classmate Barack Obama. Tori holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninjutsu and has traveled the USA teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-protection.

Here it’s clear from Tori’s bio that she would be an interesting media interview, she’s comfortable in front of a camera or behind a microphone, she has interesting stories to tell about growing up in Hawaii, and that she has expertise in one of the main subjects of her book, The Ninja’s Blade, and can speak further on the topic of self-defense.

If you find you have less colorful facts to include in your author bio, don’t force it! Maybe you can take one or two important facts about yourself and interestingly frame them. Perhaps you can focus on mentioning one or two achievements or self-defining experiences. Try to include a couple of pertinent facts to your book or make good interview questions. Don’t be afraid to sound boring; less is more!

All roads lead to social media

Finally, another key to a good author bio includes links to personal websites and social media accounts. In fact, think of the author’s bio as more of a prologue to the information that interested readers will find by visiting your personal website and social media pages. The key here is that you want to just give readers enough to paint a broad picture of who you are and what you’re bringing to the table as an author. That’s why it’s best to keep the bio short, sweet, and always pointing tantalizingly toward these personal accounts for more information.

Books that inspire some of the most creative bookstagrammers

Books that inspire some of the most creative bookstagrammers

I’d say that all bookstagrammers have to be creative — a lot of work goes into creating aesthetically pleasing pictures of books. But these influencers go above and beyond! From fashion to baking to drawing, they raise the bar for book reviews. We asked 26 bookstagrammers what book inspires them, and here’s what they said:

  1. Daci (@daciandthebooks) says: “The Book of Delights by Ross Gay is like if your smartest, wittiest friend—who also happened to be a poet—shared their gratitude journal with you. I read it on vacation and it helped me appreciate the mundane as much as (if not more than!) the remarkable.”
  2. Carmen (@tomesandtextiles) says: “A book that inspires me is We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Although this is technically an essay adapted from Chimamanda’s TED talk, I find myself regularly referencing the words within these pages as a way to reinforce my feelings about intersectional feminism and to motivate me to keep fighting against the patriarchy.”

  3. Lili (Utopia State of Mind) says: “I’ve been a fan of Mark Oshiro’s work since I read an early copy of Anger is a Gift and their recent release, Each of Us A Desert, is a transcendent book that emphasizes the importance of stories being told, our responsibility as a community to never forget, and the burden of carrying these weights alone. The stories that change us. Without which we become someone who doesn’t understand the weight of regret.”
  4. Holly (@bookcooklook) says: “I’ve read so many wonderful books during the pandemic that it’s hard to choose just one, so I’ll go with my most recent favorite, The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. I don’t typically “star rate” my books but if I did, this one would be five stars for sure. This magnificent novel is about a fictional character named Ana, who in this story is the wife of Jesus. It’s important to note that the book is not about Jesus per se, but rather about Ana herself, the women in her life, and her own strength, bravery and determination. It is very much a book about female empowerment, and while Ana likely never existed, the book is filled with historical details that add depth to the beautiful writing and captivating story.”
  5. Saida (@saidainabook) says:  “I am always inspired by so many books but the one I want to mention today is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. For me, this book is a reminder that imagination and creativity know no limits. Full of magic and whimsy, The Night Circus breaks free of all sorts of boundaries and is endlessly inspiring.”
  6. Kate (@katesbookparade): says “Ever since I was very young, I’ve been inspired by The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, a small but mighty story about finding the wonder that exists all around us. I used to be a children’s librarian, and children’s books always hit me in all the feels by reminding me of the richness of life’s possibilities!”
  7. Thom (@readbooks.servelooks) recommends: “Temporary by Hilary Leichter. Imagine a world where virtually anything can be a job. One day you’re cleaning the deck of a pirate ship and the next you’re an assassin’s assistant. In that same world, you might have 18 unnamed boyfriends that live in your apartment and bond while you’re gone. With Temporary, Leichter has written a novel that is absurd, hilarious, heartfelt, and memorable.”
  8. Mariah (@thekneadtoread) says: “I recommend Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Each short story, centered around Latina characters of indigenous descent, will hit you right en la corazón. Excellent content, powerful message, and magnificent writing so you can’t go wrong!”
  9. Melanie (@drawntobooks) says: “Although the subject matter might be a little dark to read amidst the pandemic, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a book that has always inspired me. His sharp yet poetic writing is nothing short of masterful. The father/son dynamic was explored so deeply and beautifully I will forever remember it’s characters and their journey.”
  10. Zoe (@zoecreatesthings) says: “A book that inspires me is Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir, Good Talk. Oscillating between hilarious and heart-rending, Mira Jacob’s storytelling is strikingly earnest and beautifully nuanced. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in creative mediums. (I’d also recommend it to anyone, period.)”
  11. Robbi (@book.to.bowl) says: “I really connected with the character of Thandie in What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, as she navigates early adulthood and works to define her identity as a black woman; the story is a truly intimate look into what it means to be a black woman who often doesn’t fit into certain stereotypes. Additionally, as someone who loves to cook and eat, I appreciated how certain memories in the book are connected to a particular dish or cooking experience.”
  12. Debora (@oh_apostrophe) says: “Little Women by Louisa May Alcott inspired me to be a reader, a writer, and an independent woman. The beauty and modernity of Little Women is that it gives girls the freedom to be whoever they want to be — dreamer or doer, poet or princess, homemaker or wave maker.”

  13. Mel (@acosyreader) says: “Any Ordinary Day: Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life by Leigh Sales is an eye-opening and compassionate book that has inspired me to view grief in a new light, and taught me so much about how we as humans cope with the challenges life throws at us. I read this book at a tough time, and it helped me see new ways of showing up for, and supporting, grieving friends and family. Full of compassion, empathy, good humour, and resilience – there’s something for everyone to be found in these pages.”
  14. Mel (@thebookfamilyrogerson) says: “Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane is a nonfiction book that explores human existence in the context of deep time. Wide-reaching and at times almost mythical in tone, the author’s subterranean adventures to locations including the Paris catacombs and Norwegian sea caves challenge and dizzy the reader. This haunting read inspired us to assess our place in the world and consider the legacy we’d like to pass onto future generations.”

  15. Maria (@mpjustreading) says: “The Body Papers by Grace Talusan inspires me to speak up about trauma and mental health issues. It’s a great reminder that cruelty or abuse should never be faced alone, especially since silence can never protect or heal anyone.”
  16. Em (@pagingserenity) says: “I recommend The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi! It’s a story full of magic and friendship. The worldbuilding and writing are so captivating. And the characters are diverse and so likeable they feel like your own friends by the end of the book.”
  17. Claire (@drawmeabookreview) says: “A book that has inspired me is The Right To Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. Highlighting Indigenous voices and Canadian literature is important to me, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier is someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for and supporting her small Indigenous community in northern Quebec. I love that she’s done so many different things, from education worker to environmental activist, all to help those in her local community.”
  18. Monica (@oxfordjanebooks) says: “Things In Jars by Jess Kidd is a newer favorite of mine! It is marvelously executed: magical, so funny, turn-your-stomach gross, odd and psychologically astute. I was completely captivated. Jess Kidd describes 19th century London so that you want to lift your feet out of the muck and cover your face to avoid the stench. Definitely a story for those of us who love a smartly crafted mystery with brilliantly created characters.”
  19. Zaina (@writingquills) recommends: “Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali. This is an #ownvoices novel and a love story between two Muslim teens. As a Muslim myself, it warmed my heart to read a YA story with positive Muslim representation and that, along with the budding romance and beautiful imagery, made me feel a good deal of emotions. This book talks about Islamophobia, living with Multiple Sclerosis, cultural appropriation and so much more. Zayneb and Adam inspired me a lot. I adored Love From A to Z and would definitely recommend it!”
  20. Vivien (@steepedinwords) says: “I would love to recommend Circe by Madeline Miller. Circe is strong and does not let men or her life circumstances dictate the way she will live. She’s independent and strong willed who loves unconditionally and does everything in her power for her loved ones.”
  21. Amanda (@escape_in_a_book) recommends: “Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. This YA queer love story is a powerful ride. Coming of age, loving who you are, the toxicity prejudices…so much is unpacked during this fictional journey. Equally entertaining and important, a must read for everyone.”
  22. Katie (@baytownbookie) says: “My book recommendation is Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now by Liz Forkin Bohannon. Liz debunks the myth that your passion and purpose are just floating out in the universe waiting to be discovered and encourages readers to cultivate their passions through pluck (spirited and determined courage.) It is packed full of charm, wit, humor, 90s references and practical ideas for building passion/purpose in your life.”
  23. Suruchi (@_ink_and_fables) says: “The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri inspires me because it teaches us how we should never ever let go of our roots. It’s a medium to reconnect with our family and no matter what, we are a product of our roots.”
  24. Britannia (@booklooksbyb) says: “One of my favorite recent inspiration books is The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. This series is not only visually beautiful, fantastical & engaging but it is also very smart in how it challenges & reflects concepts of beauty & how we as a society see, value and treat people’s bodies (especially the bodies of women). As a makeup artist, a book lover and a woman of color, this story really resonated with me and I would highly recommend it!”

  25. Aleyxandra (@alyxandriaang) says: “My book recommendation is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This heartwarming, generational tale is a story that teaches you compassion, the struggles of immigrants and the importance of identity in an unknown world. This book inspires me every day to be humble and resilient.”
  26. Jennie (@jennieshaw) says: “The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith made me want to rent a billboard that featured the cover and a speech bubble containing bold all caps that screamed READ THIS BOOK. Because holy smokes, it’s amazing!! I’d been in a reading slump when this book’s quirky adventure of Hell’s librarian reminded me why escapist novels are so important — they’re like red bull for imagination inspiration!”
  27. Meg (@bookswithmeg_) recommends: “Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. I loved this one because just as soon as you think what’s going on … it’s something completely different. The emotions that this book pulled from me was unexpected but made me love this book THAT much more!”

 

Leaning into e-books during the pandemic

I’m an old-fashioned gal — I much prefer reading a print book over an ebook. But I’ve never been one to pass up a good sale, so if there’s an e-book I’m interested in for 99 cents, I’ve probably bought it. That accounts for most of the 60+ books in my Kindle account. How many of those had actually been read as of early 2020? Well, that’s none of your business. 

Also, most of the time, our clients send us early copies of their books in e-book format, so early on in my career at Books Forward, I got an e-reader to accommodate that. That was pretty much the extent of the dealings I had with e-books.

And then the pandemic hit, and the library closed, and I couldn’t check out any book that sounded good on a whim. Do I have a home library full of books waiting to be read? Yes, but that’s besides the point. Luckily, I could still access the library’s vast collection of e-books. 

I do have a bookstagram account, and I was worried about how photos of e-books would turn out. But reading whatever I want was more important to me, so I started checking out as many e-books as my account would allow. And gosh, it’s opened up new worlds. 

I don’t have to drive to the library to pick up the book I’ve been anticipating—it’s often available with just one tap of a button. I read A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin on my Kindle in the spring; not having to hold those giant hardbacks probably saved me many a hand cramp. 

When I wake up before anyone else in my house, I can get a few chapters in by pulling up an e-book on my phone without having to switch a light on and wake up my husband. 

It also has been a way for me to access a larger number of diverse selections — the library’s budget is only so large, and e-book copies are much more affordable than hard copies. If there’s a book I want to read that the library doesn’t have, 99 percent of the time I can request that they stock the e-book and have my wish granted in a matter of weeks.

Plus, there are so many good deals on e-books, and I’m actually reading the books I buy on my Kindle now! (Miracles never cease!)

I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m deserting physical books for e-books; that will likely never happen for me. But I will say that I’ve developed an appreciation for the ease that they provide. 

As for bookstagram photos — it’s still a work in progress, but I’ve learned a lot by trying to take pictures of my phone. And honestly I use my account more for reviews than photos, and now I have more books to review than ever! 

Spooky season approaches! Prepare with one of these atmospheric books

Guest post by Sydney from Bookpals (@bookpals)

It. Is. Spooky. Season. Raise your hand if Halloween is your absolute favourite holiday of all time? Yes. Yes spooky babies, I see you and I am here for you.

Why do we love Halloween? For me it’s a potent cocktail of pure nostalgia (grade school halloween parades yes please), inappropriate-for-my-age-horror-movie viewing (sure dad, let’s watch Alien 3, I’m only 8 years old) and an unabiding love of dressing up has been brewing and bubbling my whole life.

Young Sydney one hundred and ten percent believed in ghosts, goblins, witches and gremlins. Did I start a Ghostbusters society at my elementary school? Yes. Did I make a Witch Business at age nine with my best friend complete with business cards? Also yes. Did I borrow the same book on poltergeists over and over again from the library and bother my mother incessantly with “facts” about gremlins? Hard yes.

I was a spooky kid. I loved weird and wonderful things even though they absolutely scared the pants off of me. I don’t think I’ve grown into a particularly spooky adult, but my love of Halloween runs deep and true. Here’s some books to get you in the spooky mood (as if you would need help…)

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill
Vic McQueen is able to find lost things in a way even she doesn’t understand. One day she finds something she shouldn’t have and has a life-changing run in with terrifying Charles Manx. She manages to escape but Manx never forgets a face, especially one like Vic’s. Sure his dad is the kind of horror but Joe Hill wrote a book that genuinely creeped me right the heck out and was quite well written.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Girls have always disappeared from the island of Sawkill Rock, but nobody talks about it. New girl Marion crosses paths with Val and Zoey and between the three of them, they’re getting to the bottom of this (no matter how little each of them wants to be involved) This reads like a very enjoyable scary movie and gave me the shivers a few times

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
A New England girls’ field hockey team makes a deal with some dark magic to win their 1989 season. Not particularly scary but definitely spooky and absolutely worth a read (plus 10/10 for fall atmosphere)

How Long ‘til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin
You won’t find this short story collection in the horror section at your bookstore but trust me, some of the wild creations that come from Jemisin’s mind could easily wind up there. You meet monsters (human and non), dystopian futures and some truly scary witches.

The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James
Carly’s aunt Viv disappeared in the middle of the night in November 1982 after working the night shift at the Sundown Motel. Carly wants some answers about her aunt’s disappearance and in her search for the truth finds herself working at the Sundown, with the exact same shift as her aunt. Will Carly suffer the same fate as Viv? Fans of the supernatural and true crime will find things to like.

Sydney is one half of Bookpals, a Canadian bookstagram duo. She works full time as a midwife and loves Halloween, ’80s movies, bad dancing and her three cats.

To Promote or Not to Promote: The Pros and Cons of Facebook Advertising

Authors are always doing what they can to get their books in front of more people. But the real goal should be to get your book seen by the most people in your target audience. Number of eyes doesn’t mean anything if they are not likely to turn into sales.

That’s where targeted Facebook ads come into play. Advertising on social media is an extremely effective strategy for promoting your book or building up your social media accounts. As always with promotion strategies, there are pros and cons to Facebook advertising.

The Pros

  1. Targeting a Specific Audience: Blanket advertising is not always the best strategy when trying to get more people to purchase your book. You want there to be a larger click through rate on your ad, which is more prone to happen if the audience seeing the ad is interested. By using the data on Facebook, you can target people based on their interests, gender, age, and location. You can always change these parameters as well, depending on how well an ad is performing.
  2. Number of Users: You can reach so many people on Facebook. There are currently 2.7 billion users on the platform, so even with targeting you are reaching a wider audience than you would on other platforms.
  3. Different Ad Options: There are multiple types of ads that you can run depending on your goal. The ads fall under three different categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion. You can choose what you’re wanting to accomplish (more traffic to a website, more page likes, more sales, more brand awareness, etc.) and Facebook will run an ad tailored to that goal.
  4. Comparison Opportunities: Facebook allows you to run multiple ads at a time, which allows you to monitor which ads are performing better than others. They allow you to set up an ad with an A/B Test which means the same ad runs with two different ad sets (different target demographics/psychographics) so you can see which audience is responding more. This allows an efficient way to monitor who you should be targeting and can save you money by only spending money on the ad that is giving you the most engagement.
  5. Easy to Change: Facebook ads are also easy to tweak if needed. You can go in and change the target audience at any time. You aren’t locked in to the ad set you originally create. Having the ability to change demographics as well as the image/copy at any time is helpful in making sure you are getting the best results possible.

The Cons

  1. Costs: While you can set up a Facebook ad with any size budget, the bigger the budget the better an ad will perform. This doesn’t mean that your $5/day ad won’t generate more engagement, but if you want substantial numbers, it could become expensive. Also, if your targeting is off, it can be a lot of cost for not enough return.
  2. Limitations to Facebook: While you are reaching a wide amount of people, it is only Facebook users that you are reaching and a lot of people who have accounts have started to move on to other, more progressive social platforms. This fact could lead to lower numbers of engagement on your ads. But again, a lower percentage of 2.7 billion, is still a pretty large number.
  3. Diminished Organic Views: Only a small percentage of your customers will stumble onto your post organically since the Facebook algorithm limits brands visibility, so to reach more people you may have to boost your posts.

Marketing your book can definitely be overwhelming, and understanding your options is key. It is important to take all of these things into consideration before creating an ad, however the pros usually outweigh the cons when it comes to advertising your book or your brand as an author on Facebook.

How to make the most of the 2020 SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show

Books Forward is so excited for the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show starting Sept. 21 — check out our exhibitor booth here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/! This year’s trade show is going to look a little different from previous years: for the first time ever, SIBA and NAIBA have partnered up to host a virtual, five-day event. We can’t wait to join our favorite indie booksellers, publishers, and authors online for this one-of-a-kind experience — and we also know that new opportunities can create questions for our authors. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the trade show to help authors navigate this year’s especially unique event with ease!

What does the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show look like?
Held Sept. 21-25, the trade show will consist of a series of Zoom events taking place across four different channels. It’s a joint event hosted between SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Association) and NAIBA (the New Atlantic Booksellers Association), united under the name New Voices New Rooms. Booksellers will be eyeing new and upcoming book releases!

What does this year’s schedule look like?
You can find the trade show schedule here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/schedule/. It’s divided into four tracks: Education (panels, roundtables, and more for booksellers), Author Events, Publisher Events, and Networking. It’s interactive and searchable; you can add all events, or just individual events, to your personal calendar; you can subscribe to it; and you can easily share it on social media. You’ll also find all of the participating publishers tagged — just click on the publisher’s name to see all of the events that publisher is participating in.

This schedule is pretty extensive! How will I know what’s happening each day?
Not only is the schedule broken up by day, but the New Voices New Rooms blog will also have a rundown of each day’s events, and is a great hub for finding out info about the show: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/nvnr-news/. Their newsletter will also recap daily sessions and events, as will the SIBA and NAIBA newsletters, respectively.

How many people can attend the online trade show?
There is no attendance cap; there are more than 500 booksellers and other industry attendees registered right now.

Can I still arrange to be featured in an author event?
The Author Events schedule is full, but there are still some advertising options available to reach attendees via the email newsletter or trade show website, which is sure to have high traffic during that week! Find more info here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/sponsors/.

Do I have to register?
Anyone who is participating in the trade show (including exhibitors) or who wants to attend must register; you can do so here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/registration/. Registering gets you onto the list of people allowed into the Zoom rooms/events.

If my publisher/editor/representative got me scheduled to participate in a trade show author event, do I still have to register?
Anyone who is attending or participating in the trade show must be registered for the event; this is how you get on to the list of Zoom room attendees. However, it’s possible that SIBA/NAIBA registered you on behalf of your publisher/editor/representative; it’s best to check with your participating organization to make sure.

I am, or my publisher/representative is, participating in the trade show. How will ARCs/galleys/review copies of my book be available?
If an author is featured at an event, New Voices New Rooms will send a Google form to all session participants at the end of the event to incentivize people to sign up for copies; publishers will then receive a list with all the book requests. Exhibitors can also feature galley request forms on their pages in the Virtual Exhibitor Hall!

What is the Virtual Exhibitor Hall?
While we may miss the crowded and bustling exhibitor halls of previous years, New Voices New Rooms has created a really excellent Virtual Hall for Exhibitors, which you can peruse here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/virtual-exhibit-hall/. When you hover your cursor over each logo, the digital placard flips over to reveal a sentence or two about that exhibitor. Click on the logo to “enter” the exhibitor’s virtual booth, where you can learn more about their offerings and services, and even enter an online raffle! There’s also a searchable directory of exhibitors in the dropdown menu between the sponsor logos and exhibitor logos.

How do I know which booksellers are in attendance?
New Voices New Rooms has created a pretty awesome searchable list of all registered booksellers who will be in attendance — check it out here! https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/booksellers/

Will I be tagged on social media?
New Voices New Rooms is creating graphics and videos that can be shared on social media by publishers and exhibitors; each piece of content will include a list of participating authors’ social media handles so they can be easily tagged online. This is perfect for promoting and sharing specific authors and events!